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Lenovo ThinkPad X300 components  (Source: BusinessWeek)
BusinessWeek details the ThinkPad X300's development

When Apple announced its MacBook Air in January, many people were in awe over the notebook's sleek design, relatively light weight and thin frame. Even many die-hard PC fans admitted that the design of the MacBook Air was quite attractive to the eyes.

Opinions began to sour, however, when people realized what Apple had to leave out in order to achieve the "cut down" dimensions of the MacBook Air. Apple left out a network port, optical drive, removable battery and only included one USB port. To make matters worse, users can not upgrade the memory on the device and despite the "Air" moniker; there is no integrated support for EV-DO or HSDPA.

So while Apple was getting flak for its lack of features on its MacBook Air, Lenovo had its own lightweight ultra-portable notebook brewing in the background: the ThinkPad X300. DailyTech brought you coverage of the device when it first leaked as well as Walt Mossberg's initial impressions of the device and final specifications.

The X300 corrects all of the MacBook Air's missteps and adds one major disappointment of its own. The X300 includes all of the features missing from the MacBook Air listed above in addition to Wireless USB, a fingerprint reader, 13.3" 1440x900 LED-backlit display and the ability to add a secondary battery.

The sole disappointment in my eyes is the processor speed when compared to the MacBook Air. Lenovo includes a 1.2GHz Core 2 Duo processor with the X300 compared to the 1.6GHz and 1.8GHz Core 2 Duo processors available with the MacBook Air. On the plus side, the 12W processor used in the X300 is more power efficient than the 20W processors used in the MacBook Air which should lead to greater battery life.

Now, BusinessWeek has the inside story on the development of the X300 which took 20 months from the original concept to production. Although Lenovo doesn't expect the X300 to be a big seller for the brand, it wishes to make the notebook a "halo" product like the MacBook Air.

"We want to send the message that if there's a company in the industry that can continuously develop the most inventive and best-quality products with efficiency, it will be Lenovo," said Chairman Yang Yuanqing.

Lenovo also wants to have the firepower to go up against rivals HP and Dell. Dell in fact doesn't even feel threatened at all by Lenovo -- at least in the U.S. market. "We have bigger rivals to worry about, except in China," said Dell CEO Michael Dell.

Perhaps Mr. Dell should at least take a look at Lenovo ThinkPad build quality compared to his own business notebooks -- that is something to worry about.

The BusinessWeek article goes on to detail the lengthy gestation period of the device including the mandate that an LED-backlit display, optical drive and SSD had to be included in the final design.

Overall, it looks as though Lenovo has a winner on its hands with the ThinkPad X300. The price undercuts the MacBook Air (when equipped with a 64GB SSD). The price delta only increases when you factor in the added $100 for an optical drive for the MacBook Air and $30 for a USB 2.0 network adapter.

Now, I just need to stash some money in a piggy bank and wait on my free government handout ($600 rebate check) to get one myself…





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